Sunday, October 19, 2008

Incremental changes

It is often easier to make incremental changes in a marketplace, rather than big ones all at once. The NY Times has a story on Yahoo's painstaking process of changing its home page, a process apparently common to big web portals: Changing That Home Page? Take Baby Steps.

"You could call it stealth innovation. The company’s goal is to end up several months from now with a completely different, and presumably better, front page — with its audience intact. The effort is as much art as science and seeks to balance the company’s desire to innovate with its fear of alienating users. And it offers an example of how online services are designed and improved in a world where a rival’s offering is just a click away.
The challenges are not unique to Yahoo. All kinds of Web sites, big and small, face similar issues as they leap from version 1.0 to version 2.0 and beyond. But the largest, most successful sites have the most to lose by springing sudden changes on their users, so they often exercise particular caution. Google, for instance, has said it tries to make changes to its search engine that, on their own, are imperceptible, but that taken together result in a better product over time. With the same goal in mind, eBay once took 30 days to gradually change the background color of its home page from gray to white. "

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